Editor's Letter: December 2013

Editor's Letter: December 2013

Time Warp

For 23 years, this magazine, under its previous iteration as Registered Rep. and its current one as simply REP., has been polling brokers to get their thoughts and feelings about where they work, what they do and how satisfied they were with their jobs.

You’ll find some of the results on page 30. But much more of the data is on our website,

It’s true this is the 23rd annual survey, but the magazine had done similar surveys previously. The earliest I could find was from 1985. And if any document suggests how far this industry has come in just under 30 years, this is it.

In 1985, the average broker was 38 years old. He made 17 cold calls a day. (Only 6 percent closed the sale on the first call. It took on average four calls to close a sale.) Cold calling accounted for 40 percent of new business. Referrals were 38 percent. He had 314 accounts in his book, 6 percent of which are institutional. He produced $177,318, receiving a 36 percent payout on stocks and a 44 percent payout on limited partnerships (that’s $385,000 in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation). He had a net worth of $324,980 (just over $705,000 in today’s money). While only 10 percent said money was the most important part of the job, 63 percent said they favored “office sales contests” as a motivating incentive.

What did brokers in 1985 want from their firms the most? The number one answer was “more advertising.” (Today we would likely refer to this as “marketing support.”) The quoted experts in the article scoffed at the notion. Judith Johnson, then a senior vice president and division sales manager for Advest in Hartford, Conn., told the magazine “the desire for more advertising says, ‘Do it for me.’ Brokers need to realize they are a highly paid delivery system. If we did more advertising, we wouldn’t need them.”

One thing has not changed: The anxiety over bringing more women into the workplace. In a separate article in the same issue titled “Women: The Dilemma of Success,” the author points out women account for 13 percent of the broker population. (Is it much better today?) Why isn’t the industry more hospitable to women, the author asks? They are “better organizers,” but “aren’t willing to use social connections to build business” and “hurt too bad when clients lose money,” according to her sources. One female psychologist put it more succinctly for the time: “A women isn’t used to being judged by how much money she makes.”

If there’s interest, drop me a line and we’ll try to get copies of the old surveys put on As always, feel free to reach out with any thoughts, concerns or suggestions.


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